China has ruffled international feathers, particularly Japan and the United States, when it announced on Saturday that it is establishing the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone, which includes the disputed territory of the Senkaku Islands or the Diaoyus. The nation’s Defense Ministry said they will take “defensive emergency measures” against any unidentified aircraft that will enter the zone.
The Senkakus are currently under the administration of Japan, but China has been making strong claims to the uninhabited group of islands, causing the deterioration of diplomatic relations between the two East Asian countries. Immediately after the announcement of the new zone, Chinese aircraft made its first patrol around the area. Shen Jinke, a spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army air force said that the patrol is in accordance with international practices. Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun also said in a statement published on their website that it is “a necessary measure taken by China in exercising its self-defense right.” He said they are not directing this move at any specific country or target. He also emphasized this will not affect any international flights that fly within the zone.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry immediately filed a protest with the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo and issued a statement saying this latest move by China “escalates the situations” regarding their territorial dispute and may lead to “an unexpected situation.” The United States, Japan’s strongest ally which has a strong military presence in the region, also expressed its sentiments over China’s move. US Secretary of State John Kerry said they are “deeply concerned” and sees the new zone as a “destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region.” But US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that this doesn’t alter their military operations and will continue to support its allies and partners.
While most reaction in China has been positive towards the new zone, with one lawyer on Sina Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) saying it “is the best news I have seen in my life,” there are some who are cautious over their government’s move. Wu Ge, a military commentator, said that any small accident can lead to a big conflict, but also doubts that anything major will come out of it as it is simply posturing by the government. “They pretend to be tough to win public support,” he wrote.
[ via USA Today ]
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